Can the Braves win it again? Yes. Will they? Um ...

Braves third baseman Austin Riley celebrates with the Commissioner's Trophy as they celebrate their 7-0 win against the Houston Astros to win game 6 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park, Tuesday, November 2, 2021, in Houston. The Atlanta Braves beats the Houston Astros 4-2 to take the World Series. Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin

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Braves third baseman Austin Riley celebrates with the Commissioner's Trophy as they celebrate their 7-0 win against the Houston Astros to win game 6 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park, Tuesday, November 2, 2021, in Houston. The Atlanta Braves beats the Houston Astros 4-2 to take the World Series. Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Not since the 2000 Yankees has a World Series champion retained the title. The Dodgers are on track to win 110 games, which no band of Dodgers has ever done. And yet, as of Wednesday morning, FanGraphs assessed L.A.’s chances of winning it all at 15.7%.

Given a choice between MLB’s team with the most wins and all other playoff participants, a savvy bettor would take the expanded field of 13, which as a collective would stand an 84.3% chance. If memory serves, the 2021 postseason qualifier with the worst record was handed the Commissioner’s Trophy.

After 104 games, the 2021 Braves were 51-53. The 2022 edition awoke Wednesday at 63-41. This team would have to collapse to miss the playoffs. Per FanGraphs, the Braves have a better shot (12.5%) of winning the World Series than the 70-35 Yankees (10.9).

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The trade deadline arrived Tuesday at 6 p.m. EDT. Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves’ general manager and mover of mountains, consummated his final trade at 5:58. It brought Raisel Iglesias, a closer, from the Angels at the cost of Tucker Davidson, who was among the Braves’ top prospects and who started Game 5 of last year’s World Series.

The Braves had dealt Will Smith, who closed all 11 playoff victories last year, to Houston for starter Jake Odorizzi. That suggests Anthopoulos has concerns about Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson, stalwarts of autumn 2021. It also suggests the Braves aren’t counting on Mike Soroka, whose last big-league pitch came Aug. 3, 2020.

The move for Iglesias harkens to 2019, when a team Anthopoulos believed capable of winning the World Series couldn’t override a blown lead in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. That series went sideways when reliever Chris Martin was injured before throwing a pitch, thereby throwing a lovingly calibrated bullpen out of plumb. Said Anthopoulos: “If losing one guy could have that big an impact, you didn’t have enough.”

ExploreAnthopoulos strengthens Braves in multiple ways

This time last year, the Braves were assimilating Anthopoulos’ Whole New Outfield. One of the four imports became the World Series MVP. Another was the NL Championship Series MVP. Another would have been the NLDS MVP, were such a prize given. The Braves’ positional needs were much less this time. Re-acquiring Ehire Adrianza gives the Braves someone else to try at second base – Robinson Cano had nothing left – until Ozzie Albies returns. Robbie Grossman is the new Adam Duvall.

Last year’s outfield importation turned a sub-.500 team into a champion. These four additions can’t have such an outsize effect. Since June 1, the Braves are 40-14. That they haven’t caught the Mets isn’t to say they won’t. The five-game series that starts Thursday at Citi Field will be an early test of the renovated Braves. It also will give us an idea if the just-returned Jacob deGrom trumps any move the Braves could have made.

The 2022 Braves are better than their immediate predecessor, which means something – can’t win the World Series if you don’t make the playoffs – but we know October can bear scant resemblance to the six-month regular season. The 2000 Yankees completed a pinstripe threepeat; they also carried the worst record among that year’s playoff participants. All together now: The playoffs are a crapshoot.

Can the Braves win it all again? Sure, but they’ll have to navigate a reconfigured playoff grid. Each league will have three wild cards. The play-in game is no more. The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will have Round 1 byes. It’s not essential that the Braves win the East, though a division title wouldn’t hurt. A wild card doesn’t get a bye.

A team with a bye needs 11 wins to be World Series champs; it can work a maximum of 19 playoff games. A team without a bye must win 13 games and can play 22. That’s why a not-bad rotation needed Odorizzi. That’s why a bullpen with Kenley Jansen has room for Iglesias. You can’t have too much pitching. Quote me on that.